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Pittsburgh protesters picket BNY Mellon's HQ

By Kevin Begos

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19 2011 4:02 p.m. MDT

Protestors hold signs as they march in front of the BNY Mellon headquarters building with the Occupy Pittsburgh group on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 in Pittsburgh.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Members of the Occupy Pittsburgh group on Wednesday demanded that the state attorney general investigate whether Bank of New York Mellon Corp. overcharged public pension funds in Pennsylvania as they protested in front of the bank's downtown headquarters.

Dozens of cars honked in support of the protest, but only a few dozen downtown workers gathered to watch the half-hour event involving 75 protesters.

Anthony Zanaglio, a member of the United Steelworkers Union, said he joined the protest because "people are fed up."

"The taxpayers bailed out all the banks," said Zanaglio, 54. He added that state officials should look into the pension allegations.

On Sunday, Occupy Pittsburgh demanded that BNY Mellon pay back money they allege it overcharged public pension funds around the country.

BNY Mellon spokesman Ron Gruendl said in a statement Wednesday that the allegations of pension wrongdoing "are misguided."

Earlier this month, the New York state attorney general and New York City filed a lawsuit against BNY Mellon on the same issue, alleging the firm overcharged pensions by almost $2 billion dollars.

"The suits against us are not supported by the facts or the law," BNY Mellon said in Wednesday's statement. "The foreign exchange market is highly competitive and we are proud of the valuable services we provide our clients. We will defend ourselves vigorously on behalf of our shareholders and employees."

Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, said protesters who came to the attorney general's Pittsburgh office were given instructions on how to file an official complaint, but so far they haven't done so.

Karen Chapel said she had mixed feelings about the protesters. She challenged one protester, noting that the bank is letting the group camp out at a nearby private park it owns.

Chapel — who said she came downtown to make sure her son, who works for BNY Mellon, was OK — said she didn't like the tone of Wednesday's demonstration. "They were nice the other day," she said of previous protests. And she questioned whether the Occupy Pittsburgh group had realistic goals.

Yet Chapel said she agrees with some of the general sense of frustration in the protests.

"What they need to do is help the people get registered to vote," she said. Then, as the protesters chanted sing-along slogans, Chapel mimicked the beat with her own chant: "Go and vote, y'all."

The Pittsburgh group was formed about two weeks ago in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Dozens of the Pittsburgh protesters are also camping out in a downtown park that BNY Mellon owns. That camp has grown in the last few days, and now has about 40 tents. The protesters said they have no plans to leave.

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